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Old nemesis Spurs knock off Suns again

Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal and San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili collide as Ginobili shoots in the third quarter Thursday.

Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal and San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili collide as Ginobili shoots in the third quarter Thursday.

PHOENIX – Most Suns fans watching a Suns-Spurs game will spend the majority of the time wincing and cringing, expecting doom around the corner.

Thursday night’s 114-104 loss to San Antonio offered all the foreboding that more pain and suffering was to come from the bane of the Phoenix franchise’s existence.

The game was on national television, where the Suns are now 2-11 this season. The game was against one of the other seven Western Conference playoff position teams, and Phoenix is 5-11 against those teams this season.

San Antonio has won 29 consecutive games when scoring 100 or more points.

“We’re scoring way too many points,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said jokingly. “We shouldn’t be having this much fun.”

Just another big-game loss made it moot that the Suns, who have horrific turnover rate, went without a miscue in the first half.

It did not matter that Amaré Stoudemire found his attack mode again for a 28-point game. On the evening of an All-Star snub, Steve Nash had an 18-assist game for the third time in 12 days and had just three turnovers.

It went for naught as the Spurs’ Tim Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili all scored 20 or more for San Antonio.

The Suns pulled within three to start the fourth quarter but never got that close again until Grant Hill blocked a Parker shot and went the length of the floor for a 3-point play that cut the lead to 107-104 with 1:06 to go.

But on the next play, Hill, who had switched defensively to Parker, drifted away from the Spurs point guard and Parker hit a jump shot that essentially clinched the Spurs’ 16th win in their past 20 games.

Phoenix led for most of the third quarter until it fouled so often in the latter half of the quarter that San Antonio made 17 free throws over a 6:03 span.

Phoenix scored only 20 fourth-quarter points, turning the ball over five times as it went through a stint of trying to force the ball to Shaquille O’Neal or lost the ball when Nash tripped over Stoudemire’s screen.

“We lost our composure,” said Phoenix coach Terry Porter, noting the Suns’ five turnovers in the last period. “Those San Antonio games are like playoff games, they’re very emotional. But you just have to play through it and we didn’t do it.”

San Antonio outscored Phoenix 38-20 at the free throw line with Ginobili making all 16 of his free throw attempts. He had 30 points to lead all scorers.

Magic beat Cavs

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dwight Howard had 22 points and 18 rebounds, Hedo Turkoglu added 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic took advantage of LeBron James’ off night to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-88 on Thursday night.

The Associated Press

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